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New Methodist church honors past, anticipates future

It's still under construction now, but the new United Methodist Church will feature plenty of space for worship and learning when it opens this summer. (Iain Woessner / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
A rendering of what the completed church will look like. (Photo courtesy of Linda Renaud)2 / 3
Work continues on the new United Methodist Church's worship space -- the building will be larger than the previous church, but elements like stained glass windows will be brought in from the old church. (Iain Woessner / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

After a century of services, the old United Methodist Church in Dickinson had reached its limits.

"The foundation under our old building, our 1917 building, was crumbling," Pastor Dick Rinearson said. "Literally when we moved out, (when opening) cupboards against the wall, cement that had turned to sand literally poured out. So, time for a change. There was nothing really we could do to save that building."

It's been bittersweet to say goodbye. Rinearson said that many of the congregation had known that building for their whole lives.

"All of our members will miss the sense of history that is there," He said. "It was the home of these members for many of them all of their lives and that will certainly be missed. That's one of the reasons why we've tried in our design ... to incorporate some of the stained glass as much as they could, and bring our history with us. That was a real goal, so when people walk in, they can recognize parts of their own home."

It's been a busy year, but despite some recent snowfall, work continues on schedule at the new United Methodist Church. It is being built across the street from the new Dickinson Middle School, a location chosen to reflect a optimism in a future of growth.

"One of the main reasons we want to be out here is that we see this as a place and a building where we can grow," Rinearson said. "This land is zoned for future housing development all around us ... so it's a good place to have (the church) as the city grows."

Church member Don Jones has been lending his time and expertise to the project, and he said that the new design is intended to heighten efficacy while still offering something familiar, like the prominent stained glass being transferred from the old church to the new.

"There was a lot of man hours spent working with the architect deciding on the final design. That's what goes into designing any building," Jones said. "The size of it, the design of it, the layout of the rooms—it's much more efficient than the old church."

Growth has been "stable" for the most part, with Rinearson remarking that it can be a challenge to grow a congregation without a building, but that a lot of young families are a part of the church and they have lively youth worship services and classes. Rinearson said they want to expand their family-oriented offerings with the expanded facilities of the new church, including having a weekly family night with supper and classes for all ages.

"We can have several groups meeting here at once," Rinearson said. "We were somewhat limited in the older building."

The new church still wants for a name, though the congregation is growing close to deciding on what they will call it, Rinearson said. In the meantime, progress continues on the construction, and the first scheduled Sunday worship will be Aug. 5 this year.